Breakfast with a dose of Roundup?

SUBHEAD: Weed killer is found in most of the oat cereals and granola bars tested, including some organic.

By Alexis Tempkin - Toxicologist on 15 August 2918 for EWG.org -
(https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/glyphosateincereal/#.W3con4WeGPX)


Image above: A child pouring Cheerios into a ceriel bowlFrom ().

Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.

Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats.

Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG’s health benchmark.

 Glyphosate does not belong in cereal. Act and urge the EPA to restrict pre-harvest applications of glyphosate and tell companies to identify and use sources of glyphosate-free oats.
 Report on samples tested indicates even organic oat products contained measurable amounts of glyphosate, but none were above the EWG's Health Benchmark of 160 parts per billion.

Conventional    Organic
Samples Tested 45 16
Glyphosate Detected 43 5
Detects above EWG’s Health Benchmark       31 0
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. Last week, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.

EWG tested more than a dozen brands of oat-based foods to give Americans information about dietary exposures that government regulators are keeping secret. In April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found “a fair amount,” but the FDA has not released its findings.

Each year, more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on American crops, primarily on “Roundup-ready” corn and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. But when it comes to the food we eat, the highest glyphosate levels are not found in products made with GMO corn.

Increasingly, glyphosate is also sprayed just before harvest on wheat, barley, oats and beans that are not genetically engineered. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so that it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally.

Roundup was produced for decades by Monsanto, which this year merged with the German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG. In the case decided last week, the jury found that Monsanto knew for decades of the product’s hazards and not only failed to warn customers, but schemed to publicly discredit the evidence.

The California case that ended Friday was the first of reportedy thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto. These suits have been brought by farm workers and others who allege that they developed cancer from years of exposure to Roundup.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, reviewed extensive U.S., Canadian and Swedish epidemiological studies on glyphosate’s human health effects, as well as research on laboratory animals. The IARC classified the chemical as probably carcinogenic to humans, and has steadfastly defended that decision despite ongoing attacks by Monsanto.

In 2017, California listed glyphosate in its Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, has proposed a so-called No Significant Risk Level for glyphosate of 1.1 milligrams per day for an average adult of about 154 pounds. That level of exposure is more than 60 times lower than the safety level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

California’s level represents an increased lifetime risk of cancer of one in 100,000 for an average adult. But for many cancer-causing drinking water contaminants, OEHHA’s lifetime risk factor is set at one in 1 million.

Additionally, because children and developing fetuses have increased susceptibility to carcinogens, the federal Food Quality Protection Act supports including an additional 10-fold margin of safety. With this additional children’s health safety factor, EWG calculated that a one-in-a-million cancer risk would be posed by ingestion of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day.

To reach this maximum dose, one would only have to eat a single 60-gram serving1 of food with a glyphosate level of 160 parts per billion, or ppb. The majority of samples of conventional oat products from EWG’s study exceeded 160ppb, meaning that a single serving of those products would exceed EWG’s health benchmark.

As part of a glyphosate risk assessment, the EPA estimated potential highest dietary exposure levels for children and adults. The EPA has calculated that 1-to-2-year-old children are likely to have the highest exposure, at a level twice greater than California’s No Significant Risk Level and 230 times EWG’s health benchmark.

Studies suggest that glyphosate-sprayed crops such as wheat and oats are a major contributor to glyphosate in the daily diet. In EWG lab tests, 31 of 45 samples made with conventionally grown oats had 160 ppb or more of glyphosate.

The highest levels, greater than 1,000 ppb, were detected in two samples of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. Three samples of Cheerios had glyphosate levels ranging from 470 ppb to 530 ppb. Twelve of the food samples had levels of glyphosate lower than EWG’s health benchmark, ranging from 10 ppb to 120 ppb. Only two samples had no detectable glyphosate.

Glyphosate was also detected at concentrations of 10 ppb to 30 ppb in five of 16 samples made with organic oats. The five samples came from two brands of organic rolled oats: Bob’s Red Mill and Nature’s Path.

A third brand of organic rolled oats and all other organic oat products tested did not contain detectable concentrations of glyphosate.

How does glyphosate get into organic foods? It could come from glyphosate drifting from nearby fields of conventionally grown crops, or by cross-contamination during processing at a facility that also handles non-organic crops. Nature's Path explains:
While organic farming certifications prohibit the use of glyphosate, organic products do not always end up completely free of glyphosate residue. While this news may come as disappointing, it is not entirely surprising. Glyphosate use has skyrocketed in the past decade, and it maintains the ability to adhere to water and soil particles long enough to travel through the air or in a stream to nearby organic farms.
The problem of glyphosate contamination of organic foods underscores the need to restrict pre-harvest uses of glyphosate and the need for more data on glyphosate levels in products, an area where U.S. federal agencies are falling short.

Two years ago, under pressure from the Government Accountability Office, the FDA began testing for glyphosate in a limited number of foods. At the 2016 North American Chemical Residue Workshop, an FDA scientist presented data showing that glyphosate has been detected in several oat-based food products.

After a Freedom of Information Act request by US Right to Know, earlier this year the FDA released documents that said the agency has found “a fair amount” of glyphosate in several processed foods. The results have not been released, but could be made public later this year or in early 2019.

In 2016, the non-profit Food Democracy Now tested for glyphosate in single samples of a variety of popular foods. “Alarming levels” of glyphosate were found in a number of cereals and other products, including more than 1,000 ppb in Cheerios. More recently, the Center for Environmental Health tested single samples of 11 cereal brands and found glyphosate levels ranging from about 300 ppb to more than 2,000 ppb.

EPA has denied that glyphosate may increase the risk of cancer, and documents introduced in the recent California trial showed how the agency and Monsanto worked together to promote the claim that the chemical is safe.

EWG has been urging the EPA to review all evidence linking glyphosate to increased cancer risk and other adverse health effects in human and animal studies. The EPA should limit the use of glyphosate on food crops, including pre-harvest application.

Oat-based foods are a healthy source of fiber and nutrients for children and adults, and oat consumption is linked to health benefits such as lowered cholesterol and decreased cardiovascular risk.

Parents should not have to wonder whether feeding their children these heathy foods will also expose them to a pesticide that increases the risk of cancer.

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The narrow vision of futurists

SUBHEAD: They appear to be blind to climate change, resource depletion and  capitalism's greed.

By Kurt Cobb on 12 August 2018 for Resource Insights  -
(http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2018/08/climate-politics-and-narrow-vision-of.html)


Image above: Artist Bruce McCall painting of a spring activated roof launch of a flying car - the ultimate expression of lunatic 1950s self-centered techno-utopiansim with propellers buzzing over quiet asbestos-sided suburban homes. From (https://ideas.ted.com/wheres-my-flying-car-well-probably-at-ted-at-some-point/).

Most people know the tale of the blind men and the elephant. Each describes a part of the elephant. The elephant is said to be like a pillar by the blind man touching the elephant's leg. The one touching the elephant's tail says the elephant is like a rope and so on.

Now, let's substitute so-called futurists for blind men in this tale and you get something even less reliable. Futurists are the soothsayers of our age. Of course, futurists have eyes to see at least. But they, like the blind men, almost never see the whole picture.

And, in this case they are giving us a description of something that is not even there for them to examine. The future doesn't exist. It's a mere concept. Unlike the blind men, futurists aren't really describing part of a whole.

Typically, they imagine the future as a more magical version of the past where all kinds of new powers are made available to the individual: the ability to transmit emotions and memories through a worldwide "brain-net," 3D-printed human organs based on our own DNA that replace damaged or diseased ones, re-creations of loved ones who have passed away with which we can interact as we did when they were alive.

Naturally, some futurists put the first humans on Mars in the 2030s. NASA apparently has a contest for 3D-printed designs of habitats suitable for humans on Mars.

The idea that colonizing Mars will enhance the chances that humans will survive well into the future is already part of the culture. (Wait a minute! You mean really bad stuff could happen on Earth in our benign technology-laden future. But I digress.)

Unfortunately, there is the nagging problem that cosmic radiation is likely to turn anyone living on Mars into a cancer-riddled dementia patient. No problem! We'll just engineer a whole new race of humans designed to resist the cosmic radiation they will be subject to on Mars and during any space travel.


Image above: Illustration of the plan of a future Spacex Mars colony envisioned by Elon Musk. Seems unlikely that has any chance since modern Earthlings seem incapable of sustaining life even on the friendly planet they evolved on. Looks a bit like current day Phoenix, Arizona - with the same destiny - a deserted desert. From (https://www.cnet.com/news/elon-musk-spacex-mars-colony-published-in-new-space/).

For all their imaginative and storytelling powers, futurists—the ones who imagine an unlimited, happy future with vast technological change but not those who see dystopia and destruction ahead and who are instead labeled "alarmists"—these happy futurists cannot imagine dramatic change in our social and political systems.

Capitalism as we know it remains intact, apparently even on Mars. Democratically elected governments are still around; but their choices are increasingly limited to what to do with all our future abundance and the savings that will come from licking most acute and chronic diseases for good.

And, there is another really, really big thing they don't seem to be able to imagine: a civilization crippled and possibly destroyed by climate change. Well, of course, technology will solve the climate problem, they say.

My retort continues to be, "If humans are so clever and our technology so powerful, why haven't we solved the problem of climate change, a problem we already knew 30 years ago was a civilization-threatening emergency?"

The answer, of course, is that climate change cannot be solved by merely applying technology. It is a multi-dimensional, complex problem that is above all political. Those who hold power do not want to pay either in the form of foregone revenue or higher taxes what would be required to solve the problem.

And, the consumer society that is now spreading throughout the world is so profitable and appealing to just about everyone, that there is simply not the necessary constituency to support those few in the power elite who are ready to make such expenditures and sacrifices.

So, as this existential problem literally burns our forests, scorches our crops (thereby threatening a global food crisis) and brings drought to those thirsting for water and floods to those who already have too much—even as we continue down this path of destruction, the artificial intelligence labs and 3D printing equipment makers are predicted by futurists to be racing forward to a future that doesn't include the possibly fatal ravages of climate change.

The stability of governments is at stake. The viability of whole nations hangs in the balance in the future that climate change has already imagined for us.

There's a reason that most so-called futurists either don't take this into account or dismiss it as a minor problem that will somehow be fixed. The reason is that they either work for or consult with the world's corporations.

And, the corporate imagination of the world we live in and will live in is entirely dominated by visions of continuing corporate control of our lives (but in a benign way, of course).

No revolutions, no social upheaval, no mass migrations, no food or water crises and above all, no redistribution of wealth or power. Nothing to get in the way of continued economic expansion and resource use directed by the world's corporations.

As I've written before, "The Future" is a sales pitch designed to keep us locked into existing institutions and power relationships. It has nothing to do with solving our real problems or liberating us from the increasing power of corporations and the governments they have captured. It is, in fact, an elitist vision of a future entirely run by wealthy technologists who find politics and environmental disruption inconvenient.

Trying to put things into perspective for me, my landlady suggested that in the future only a fool would rob a bank in person. Why not get a robot to do it for you and have a drone play the role of the lookout? The answer from the technologists, of course, is that we won't need actual physical banks or paper money in the future.

That may or may not be true. But I have a feeling that the criminals will figure out other purposes for their crime robots and drones (and artificial intelligence squads for that matter), purposes not currently discussed in the speeches and white papers of the world's corporate-funded futurists.

These futurists, I predict, will be too busy forecasting the ways in which our attention and income will be monopolized by new technologies in the wondrous world to come.

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'Hothouse' Future for Humanity

SUBHEAD: This is the biggest political issue. It is the one thing that will affect everyone on the planet.

By Jon Queelly on 7 August 2018 or Common Dreams -
(https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/08/07/hothouse-future-humanity-scientists-behind-terrifying-climate-analysis-hope-they-are)


Image above: Los Angeles, California as a smoggy urban heat island. From (https://www.wired.com/story/urban-heat-islands-can-be-deadly-and-theyre-only-getting-hotter/).

[IB Publisher's note: Unless you are living as an indigenous person or hermit off the grid, you are more than likely part of the problem. Too many humans taking too many resources from nature and turning them into poison. Either we (you) mend our ways or we (you) go extinct. There is no negotiation with physics. There are no iPhones in Heaven.]

Scientists behind terrifying climate analysis hope they are wrong.Why isn't everyone shouting it from the rooftops?

Warning of a possible domino effect as multiple climate feedback loops are triggered within a dynamic cascade of rising temperatures and warming oceans, scientists behind a frightening new study say that for the sake of humanity's future they hope scenarios explored in their new models do not come to pass.

"I do hope we are wrong, but as scientists we have a responsibility to explore whether this is real," Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where the research was done, told the Guardian. "We need to know now. It's so urgent. This is one of the most existential questions in science."

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new study, while not conclusive in its findings, warns that humanity may be just 1°C away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago.

The research, according to its abstract, explores "the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a 'Hothouse Earth' pathway even as human emissions are reduced.

Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene."

As Rockström explains, the "tipping elements" examined in the research "can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another." And in an interview with the BBC, he added, "What we are saying is that when we reach 2 degrees of warming, we may be at a point where we hand over the control mechanism to Planet Earth herself.

We are the ones in control right now, but once we go past 2 degrees, we see that the Earth system tips over from being a friend to a foe. We totally hand over our fate to an Earth system that starts rolling out of equilibrium."

Such feedback occurences, the authors of the study write, would pose "severe risks for health, economies, political stability, and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans."

With Arctic ice and glaciers melting away; increasingly powerful and frequent storms in the Atlantic and Pacific; coral reefs dying from warming oceans; record-setting wildfires in the U.S.; unprecedented heatwaves in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere—climate researchers have been at the forefront of sounding the alarms about the frightening path humanity is now following.

"In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight," said Dr. Phil Williamson, a climate researcher at the University of East Anglia, about the latest study.

"The authors argue that we need to be much more proactive in that regard, not just ending greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible, but also building resilience in the context of complex Earth system processes that we might not fully understand until it is too late."

In order to avoid the worst-case scenarios, the researchers behind the study say that "collective human action is required" to steer planet's systems away from dangerous tipping points.

"Such action," they write, "entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values."

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Absurd fantasies of the rich

SUBHEAD: Reciprocal relationships with others are ultimately the most important possessions we have.

By Kurt Cobb on 5 August 2018 for Resource Insights -
(http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2018/08/eternity-nature-society-and-absurd.html)


Image above: No matter how luxurious the furnishing, living underground in a refurbished nuclear bunker waiting for the starving hordes on the surface to die and the environment to reset itself for life on Earth won't be convivial. For almost a decade companies like Terravivos have been offering the wealthy "life rafts" or "escape pods" from Mother Earth. Note the gold leaf finish on the outside of the underground access hallways into the dining and recreational center of this "luxury" survival condominium.  From (https://inhabitat.com/7-eco-shelters-for-surviving-the-12-21-12-apocalypse/).

Professor and author Douglas Rushkoff recently wrote about a group of wealthy individuals who paid him to answer questions about how to manage their lives after what they believe will be the collapse of society. He only knew at the time he was engaged that the group wanted to talk about the future of technology. (See IslandBreath: Survival of the Richest)

Rushkoff afterwards explained that the group assumed they would need armed guards after this collapse to defend themselves. But they rightly wondered in a collapsed society how they could even control such guards.

What would they pay those guards with when the normal forms of payment ceased to mean anything? Would the guards organize against them?

Rushkoff provides a compelling analysis of a group of frightened wealthy men trying to escape the troubles of this world while alive and wishing to leave a decaying body behind when the time comes and transfer their consciousness digitally into a computer. (I've written about consciousness and computers previously.)

Here I want to focus on what I see as the failure of these people to understand the single most salient fact about their situations:

Their wealth and their identities are social constructs that depend on thousands if not millions of people who are employees; customers; employees of vendors; government workers who maintain and run the law courts, the police force, the public physical infrastructure, legislative bodies, the administrative agencies and the educational institutions—and who thereby maintain public order, public health and public support for our current systems.

Those wealthy men aren't taking all this with them when they die. And, while they are alive, their identities will shift radically if the intellectual, social, economic and governmental infrastructure degrades to the point where their safety is no longer guaranteed by at least minimal well-being among others in society.

If the hunt for diminishing food and other resources comes to their doors, no army of guards will ultimately protect them against the masses who want to survive just as badly but lack the means.

One would think that pondering this, the rich who are capable of pondering it would have an epiphany:

Since their security and well-being ultimately hinges on the security and well-being of all, they ought to get started helping to create a society that provides that in the face of the immense challenges we face such as climate change, resource depletion, possible epidemics, growing inequality and other devils waiting in the wings of the modern world. (In fairness, some do understand this.)

At least one reason for the failure of this epiphany to occur is described by author and student of risk Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb describes how the lives the rich become increasingly detached from the rest of society as arbiters of taste for the wealthy convince them that this detachment is the reward of wealth.

The rich visit restaurants that include only people like themselves. They purchase larger and larger homes with fewer and fewer people in them until they can spend whole days without seeing another person.

For the wealthiest, neighbors are a nuisance. Better to surround oneself with a depopulated forest than people next door.

The rich are convinced by this experience that they are lone heroes and at the same time lone victims, pilloried by the media as out of touch and heartless.

These self-proclaimed victims may give to the Cato Institute to reinforce the idea that the individual can go it alone and should. They themselves have done it (or at least think they have). Why can't everyone else?

The wealthier they are, the more their fear and paranoia mounts that others not so wealthy will try to take their wealth; or that impersonal forces in the marketplace will destroy it or at least diminish it significantly; or that government will be taken over by the mob and expropriate their wealth through high taxes or outright seizure.

And, of course, there are the natural disasters of uncontrolled climate change and plague, just to name two.

It's no wonder some of the super rich are buying luxury bunkers to ride out the apocalypse. These bunkers come with an array of amenities that include a cinema, indoor pool and spa, medical first aid center, bar, rock climbing wall, gym, and library. High-speed internet is included though one wonders how it will work after the apocalypse.

But strangely, even in these luxury bunkers built in former missile silos, dependence on and trust in others cannot be avoided. The units are actually condominiums.

And while they contain supplies and ammunition said to be enough for five years, it will be incumbent on the owners, whether they like it not, to become intimately acquainted with their neighbors in order to coordinate a defense of the compound should that need arise.

The irony, of course, is that this is precisely the kind of communal entanglement which their wealth is supposed to allow them to avoid. Society, it seems, is everywhere you go. You cannot avoid it even when eternity is advancing on your door.

And, you cannot escape with your consciousness into a computer (assuming that will one day be possible) if there's no stable technical society to tend to computer maintenance and no power to keep the computer on.

It turns out that we are here for a limited time and that trusting and reciprocal relationships with others are ultimately the most important possessions we have—unless we are too rich or too frightened to realize it.

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